📰 Virtue Ethics: Not Practically Useful, Either
Author: Scott Alexander
Full Title: Virtue Ethics: Not Practically Useful, Either
My experience of morality is contrary to traditional Virtue Ethics in almost every way. It doesn’t feel like it depends on my social roles. It doesn’t strike me as divisible – that is, it feels like solid goodness and words like “continence” or “prudence” don’t do anything to me. It doesn’t strike me as the same feeling that occurs when I consider important but non-ethical questions like procrastination. It doesn’t strike me as performed in a community or according to a Narrative. It’s just not Virtue Ethics.
I bet reading works of fiction about poor people in the Third World would make you more likely to donate to charity, and contemplating Virtue Ethics and the just polis would make you more likely to make you get involved in local politics. Which of these you recommend is very closely linked to whether you think giving to charity to the Third World is more or less important than getting involved in local politics (hint: there is only one answer to this question which is not really stupid).
In terms of the best all-around practice for increasing morality I would nominate meditation, especially lovingkindness meditation. David Chapman, who knows ten zillion times more about Buddhism and meditation than I do, suggests metta bhavana, tonglen, and chöd.